Arianespace switches Soyuz and Ariane 5 launches

Arianespace has moved up the launch date for its next Ariane 5 mission, which is now set to lift off on December 6 from the Spaceport in French Guiana.

Ariane 5 Montage Kourou

Die Ariane 5 für die Mission VA216 im Dezember 2013 war Ende Oktober in Kourou in der Montage (Foto: Arianespace).  


This Ariane 5 flight will orbit a pair of telecommunications satellites from two established customers: SES’ ASTRA 5B and the Amazonas 4A satellite for HISPASAT.

The mission’s heavy-lift launcher currently is located in the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building, where it was transferred last week for the integration of its dual-passenger payload.

The December 6 mission is designated Flight VA216 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, representing the 216th liftoff of an Ariane since this series of vehicles began operation in 1979.

Its scheduling allows additional checks to be made on the payload for Arianespace’s following mission – Flight VS06, using a medium-lift Soyuz launcher – which has been set for December 20.

The passenger for Flight VS06 is the European Space Agency’s Gaia star-mapping spacecraft, which requires the modification of two transponders that generate timing signals for downlinking its science telemetry.  Replacing components in the transponders resulted in a delay that puts Flight VS06’s liftoff after the launch of Arianespace Flight VA216.

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